Well, we are sure everyone in Orange County and the greater Southern California area has learned/become aware of the Mountain Lion sighted over the weekend on multiple occasions at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. For those of our readers who did not see the video of the Mountain Lion at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park we have attached the video shot by hikers on Sunday July 15, 2012 in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park and have posted it above. The Mountain Lion was captured by park officials this morning Tuesday July 17, 2012 as it was uncharacteristically hanging around the same area in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park. We have posted below two pictures of the Captured Mountain Lion below.
Ashley and I originally heard about the Mountain Lion through David Whiting's Column in the Orange County Register (Which is an informative read). Since the Mountain Lion's capture by Park and State Officials, the Orange County Register provided another story regarding the status of the Mountain Lion which can be found Here. It was a 100 pound male Mountain Lion that was captured in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park early Tuesday morning and state wildlife officials have said it will be kept in captivity for the rest of its life as according to state wildlife officials the Mountain Lion showed signs of losing its fear of humans. As stated in the OC Register article blood tests were still being waited on regarding the health of the Mountain Lion, however the veterinarian quoted in the article stated it appeared to be healthy.
Ashley and I are glad that the Mountain Lion was not euthanize or killed like the one in Santa Monica a few months ago. Mountain Lions are natural inhabitants of the Santa Ana Mountains, which can support a population of around 20 - 30 Mountain Lions according to most studies. They are a crucial part of our natural surroundings as they are the last remaining apex predator in Orange County. As most of or readers know Orange County had other apex predators like wolves and grizzly bears which were hunted to local extinction roughly a century ago. Mountain Lion attacks on people are very rare as since the 1890's only 16 verified attacks of Mountain Lions on People have occurred, 6 of which were fatal. Given the millions of Californians that go hiking or visit wilderness type parks every year, the risk of a mountain lion attack on people/hikers/mountain bikers gets blown out of proportion by most. Bottom-line is people are not a food source for Mountain Lions and the statistics show you have an extremely low risk of being attacked by a Mountain Lion.
However, despite the extremely low risk that Mountain Lions pose to people, the Park and State Officials likely made the right call in capturing the Mountain Lion in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, especially if it was losing its fear of people. If the Mountain Lion was not losing its fear of people it should have been re-released back into the wild in a different location. I am sure another major reason the Mountain Lion was captured and not re-released into the wild was because Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park was the location of one of those fatal Mountain Lion Attacks which occurred in 2004. I am sure there was the worry of possible civil liability for Orange County and the State, if County and State officials caught a Mountain Lion that they believed or hypothesized was losing its fear of humans and released it back into the wild only to have something happen.
The bottom-line is to not go hiking alone in Mountain Lion Country. If you look at the list of attacks on people since 1890, shown Here (This site is not quite up to date with the most recent ones), most attacks occurred on single people in wilderness areas where mountain lions are found. To the hiker(s) that shot the video of the Mountain Lion in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, thank you for the incredible footage.